Mexico – June 29 – July 29, 2015
The purpose of the Congregation of the Mission is to follow Christ evangelizing the poor. This purpose is achieved when, faithful to Saint Vincent, the members individually and collectively help the clergy and laity in their formation and lead them to a fuller participation in the evangelizing of the poor (Constitutions, #1).
This aspect is fundamental in attempting to understand the concept of Vincentian identity, a concept that was not some romantic ideal in the mind of Vincent but was central in the origins of the little Company. This explicit mandate which is found in our Constitutions, demands that the Congregation have suitable Missionaries who are able to engage in formation ministry (formation of those outside the Congregation as well as formation of its own members). During the recent meeting of the Visitors (New York, 2013) the Assistant General, Father Stanislav Zontak, CM, encouraged the participants to reflect on this theme of formation since this ministry does not appear to be a priority in the provinces. Nevertheless, given the demands and the complexity of formation, given the fragility and the present reality of the aspirants, it is necessary to have competent and well-prepared formators for this important ministry.
For the purpose of forming future formators in the Congregation of the Mission and with the intention of joining our efforts together in order to form suitable formators on the interprovincial level, the Province of Mexico (through OSMEX [the Organization of Mexican Seminaries] and UNIVA [the Universidad del Valle de Atamajac]) offered the course entitled: Introduction for seminary formators. The offer was extended to the provinces of CLAPVI North, the clergy of the Diocese of Mexico and other Religious Communities. Six Vincentian Missionaries participated in these sessions (one from the Vice-Province of Costa Rica, one from the Region of Panama and four from Mexico).
The first three weeks of the course were directed by OSMEX and took place in the Diocese of Guadalajara; the last week was spent in the Federal District. There we dealt with a theme that is proper to our Vincentian community life and began to develop an interprovincial formation plan on the level of theology.
The sessions were developed by utilizing selected themes that were intended to provide basic tools that would enable the participants to engage in an effective, fulfilling and joyful ministry of formation. Furthermore, we took into consideration the requirements of the church and the present day needs as we reflected on the task of forming pastors in accord with the heart of Jesus. Because of the density and the depth of the themes that were dealt with we will present here a brief summary of the various sessions.
Collaboration in Formation (Part II-the formation team)
Mexico – June 29 – July 29, 2015
The formation team has rooted its ministry in the gospel reality: Jesus is the model formator. Jesus is the one who calls, consecrates and sends forth. Furthermore, this ministry of formation is carried out under the inspiration of the Spirit who gives strength and light to this process. The Spirit capacitates the various formators and in this way the process of formation becomes a path of grace in which the formator is a fragile instrument in the hands of God. Indeed, the formator is called to be a disciple.
To be a disciple means that one is willing to follow in the footsteps of Jesus: the model educator and formator. This means that one is willing to take time to know people, to know their life-story, to know that which they are passionate about and thus discover their gifts. This means that the formator is willing to clothe himself in the spirit of Jesus Christ which in turn will allow one to become an authentic Christian, that is, a person of integrity, one who transmits doctrine in a concrete rather than an abstract manner and one who, from the perspective of the Word of God, helps people to interpret the reality of everyday life. The formator is one who has integrated the gospel values into his life and then shares his life with others as the Good Shepherd. This is indeed the task of the disciples and as they fulfill this role they begin to configure themselves to the profile of a formator as described in the Ratio Formationis.
Common characteristics of the profile of a formator
The vocation of the formator supposes that the individual possesses a certain charism that is revealed in natural gifts and grace filled gifts … said person must be willing to engage in a process of acquiring certain qualities and attitudes:
- deeply rooted in Jesus and able to communicate their personal experience of, and love for, Jesus;
- immersed in the Vincentian charism, imbued with a genuine Vincentian missionary spirit, knowing Vincent and the history of the Community;
- in touch with the poor, having met Christ in meeting and journeying with them, so that their knowledge of, and love for, the poor is real and not simply ideal;
- men of prayer, able to share the ways prayer and ministry nourish one another;
- capable of understanding and guiding persons on their journey of formation;
- aware of the ways that young people think, appreciative of their struggles in being faithful to Christ and the Church, and able to communicate with them effectively;
- in touch and able to work with various groups of the Vincentian Family;
- appreciative of cultural diversity.